Thursday, May 6, 2010

GCAP launches Coalition of Climate Communities during the People's World Summit on Climate Change in Bolivia

As 20,000 people from all parts of the world gathered in Bolivia to attend the People’s World Summit on Climate Change, GCAP launched a Coalition of Climate Communities in a side event during the summit.

“Communities who are living with the affects of Climate Change should not be seen as victims,” said Chrisitan Mamai, a representative of the community of Yakupacha in Cochabamba, Bolivia, “We are agents of change. Our traditional knowledge, our history of living in harmony with forests and nature means we have a significant contribution to make to combating climate change.”

The Coalition will work to mobilise communities around the issue of climate change at both local, national and international level, to lobby for their voices to be a key part of the debate around climate justice.

Recognising that in many cases women are more dependent on natural resources for their subsistence and as a result, have been more severely impacted by climate change, the GCAP event started with a presentation of the Women and Climate Change Tribunals organised by the Feminist Task Force (FTF) in November 2009. Ana Agostino, Co-Convenor of the FTF gave an overview of some of the testimonies and conclusions of the Tribunals which took place in India, Nepal, Pakistan, Botswana, Uganda, Nigeria and Brazil while Anita Nayar from DAWN made an overall presentation of the structural causes of climate change from a feminist perspective and Gabriela Segura Cárdenas, from GCAP Mexico, presented experiences of the tribunal in Mexico with special emphasis on the situation of women.

This was followed by a more general discussion around the Coalition of Climate Communities starting with presentations from a panel of GCAP representatives - Rocio Valdevellano (Peru), Patricio Larribe (Chile), Gabriela Segura Cardenas (Mexico) as well as two community leaders, Christian Mamani and Rita Bustamente, from the province of Cochabamba where the summit took place.

The panellists spoke of successful actions that had been taken by communities as agents for change in the debate around climate change. This included: a media campaign in Peru on “The Voices of Climate Change” which worked to raise awareness through the mainstream media on the reality of climate change in the country and the need to take urgent and concrete action to combat it ; a decision by the community of Yakyupacha in Bolivia to took legal action against the local government for the pollution of their land with the case leading to a declaration in favour of the community from the Bolivian Supreme Court and the forming of a youth network in Mexico to mobilise young people and work together and participate in local actions around climate change.

A draft strategy for the Coalition of Climate Communities was developed which focused on three key issues – 1) the systematisation of information that emerged from the GCAP Climate Justice Tribunals in 2009 to identify key and cross cutting issues to develop a global campaign, 2) the continuation of events such as the Tribunals or Hearings to develop a space for the communities to share information and develop action plans and 3) Media strategies to raise awareness of the role of Climate Communities. The document and video of the event will be available soon.

GCAP also participated in the broader events related to the climate summit including the 17 working groups which came together to draft recommendations to world leaders around key issues such as Adaptation, Mitigation, Climate Debt, Kyoto Protocol, the development of an International Climate Crimes Tribunal, Indigenous People and Climate change and Action Strategies towards COP16 in Mexico. The results will be presented to all 192 Governments participating in the UNFCC process.

The summit represented an unprecedented coming together of civil society representatives, scientists and a number of government delegates to discuss and reach consensus around key issus related to climate change. Over 20,000 people participated over the three days The Declaration was launched in an event in the city of Cochabamba with over 50,000 people gathering to listen to the results as well as the rousing speeches from Presidents Evo Morales of Bolivia and Hugo Chavez of Venezuela who called on leaders of the world to listen to the voices of civil society who had come together during the summit. “The only way to get climate negotiations back on track, not just for Bolivia or other countries, but for all of life, biodiversity, our Mother Earth, is to put civil society back into the process. The only thing that can save mankind from a climate tragedy is the exercise of global democracy," said President Evo Morales, “Here in Cochabamba there were no secret discussions behind closed doors as there were in Copenhagen. The debate and the proposals have been led by communities on the frontlines of climate change.”

Cops: Women stop attacker in campus stabbing

5 Maine students, including one trained in self defense, jump to aid of peer
Husson University junior Jesse Hladik, 21, right, speaks, as Heather Mann looks on Wednesday in Bangor, Maine. Faced with an assailant stabbing a woman, Hladik lunged for the hand holding the knife, while fellow students grabbed the man's other limbs and wrestled him to the ground.

BANGOR, Maine - Five female students, including one who'd recently completed a self-defense class, jumped to the aid of a fellow student, grabbing her knife-wielding attacker and holding him until police officers arrived at Husson University, officials said Wednesday.
Jesse Hladik put her new skills to work when she lunged for the hand holding a knife, while fellow students grabbed the man's other limbs and wrestled him to the ground. Hladik, 21, of Buckfield, said she knew the pressure points to make him drop the knife, thanks to the class.
"It was really scary, but I'm glad we got involved," said student Heather Mann, 18, of Rochester, N.H. "Because I really think he would have killed her."

Officers responding to the report of a domestic fight at 7:40 a.m. arrived to find 45-year-old Horst Wolk of Bangor subdued on the pavement. A campus officer cuffed him, and city police hauled him away.
John Michaud, professor of legal studies, heard the commotion and saw a pile of people on the pavement, while more women stood by, ready to jump in, if necessary.
"I was very impressed by the students," Michaud said. "How many times do you hear about people walking by incidents like this? These young ladies weren't going to walk by this incident." He said the young women disarmed the suspect and "had the situation well in hand."
Wolk has been charged with attempted murder, elevated aggravated assault, aggravated assault and violating a protection order, said Bangor Police Sgt. Paul Edwards. He remained jailed Wednesday afternoon on $25,000 bail. There was no indication whether he had an attorney.
The incident unfolded in a parking lot next to Husson's O'Donnell Commons. Wolk, who isn't a student, rammed the victim's vehicle after she pulled into a parking space at 7:40 a.m., then jumped out of his vehicle with a knife in his hand, said Julie Green, Husson spokeswoman.
The injured woman, who was not identified, was treated at a local hospital and released.
Edwards said officers generally don't want bystanders to put themselves in harm's way.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

10-year-old's pregnancy fuels Mexican abortion debate

Mexico City, Mexico (CNN) -- A pregnant 10-year-old, allegedly raped by her stepfather, has become the latest lightning rod in the country's heated abortion debate.
The girl's stepfather has been arrested. But advocates on both sides of the issue say their battle is just beginning.
"This girl is much more than an isolated case," said Adriana Ortiz-Ortega, a researcher at Mexico's National Autonomous University who has written two books on abortion in Mexico, "and there is much more influence now from conservative groups that are trying to prevent the legalization of abortion."
Read more at CNN Mexico

Abortion is legal in Mexico's capital city, but prohibited or significantly restricted in most of the country's states. The girl's home state of Quintana Roo, on the Yucatan peninsula, allows abortion in cases of rape during the first 90 days of the pregnancy. But the 10-year-old girl is at 17½ weeks, nearly a month past that limit.

Advocacy groups are calling for federal officials and the United Nations to investigate Quintana Roo's handling of the matter, claiming officials did not inform her of her abortion rights.
"We don't know what is happening, and the institution that is supposed to provide support and care for these minors hasn't been transparent. We're really asking for accountability," said Maria Luisa Sanchez Fuentes, director of the Information Group on Reproductive Choice.
State Attorney General Francisco Alor Quezada said he did not know whether officials had told the girl she had the option of pursuing an abortion, and he did not know how far the girl was into her pregnancy when her mother reported the assault to authorities last month.
He said the girl is in the custody of state protective services, and officials are closely monitoring her physical and psychological care.
"I do not think there is another instance in which the girl could be in better hands," he said Monday.
Child protective services officials in Quintana Roo said in a statement last week that the girl and the fetus were in good health.
But Quintana Roo state legislator Maria Hadad said the girl's doctors aren't telling the whole story. She said continuing the pregnancy could cause severe mental and physical health problems for the girl.
"It's not just a high-risk pregnancy. It's a pregnancy that puts the girl at risk," Hadad told Mexican broadcaster Channel 10 in Chetumal, Mexico.
The Roman Catholic Church vocally opposes abortion in Mexico, and the topic has long been controversial there. The debate has been particularly heated since 2007, when the nation's more liberal capital city approved a law legalizing abortion during the first three months of pregnancy with no restrictions. That decision was challenged and ultimately upheld by the country's Supreme Court in 2008.
Since 2007, 17 states have passed laws "protecting life beginning at conception," according to the Information Group on Reproductive Choice. Legislators in Quintana Roo, which is also is home to the popular resort city of Cancun, approved such changes to its constitution last year

CNN's Nadia Sanders and Krupskaia Alis in Mexico City, and Catherine E. Shoichet and Rafael Romo in Atlanta contributed to this report.

Violence against women is a worldwide yet still hidden problem. Freedom from the threat of harassment, battering, and sexual assault is a concept that most of us have a hard time imagining because violence is such a deep part of our cultures and lives.